The Gunners haven’t enjoyed their best season so far, but could things at the Emirates finally be starting to look up?
Arsenal were top of the Premier League table at this point last year, with 35 points from their opening 16 games. Fast forward 365 days, and the Gunners find themselves not only 13 points adrift of league leaders Chelsea, but outside the top four and struggling to regain their place as well.
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A slow start to the season and a string of disappointing results have seen the fans’ patience with Arsene Wenger dwindle, and following the 3-2 loss against Stoke City earlier this month the calls for his head were at an all time high.
However, despite the club’s current position in the table and a less than stellar start to the season, it is not all doom and gloom at the Emirates as I write this.
The North London club have bounced back from their embarrassing loss against Stoke, with back to back 4-1 wins in the Champions League and Premier League. The Gunners seem to be firing on all cylinders once again, and will certainly gain confidence from their two extremely dominant displays as they head into a busy Christmas period.
Former Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez arrived over the summer, and it has largely been down to the world class Chilean that Arsenal have been doing as well as they have. He has looked like a man among boys at times, and his goalscoring exploits have dragged the Gunners over the line on a number of occasions.
Wenger’s side have looked far less reliant on him in recent weeks however, with the entire team starting to click once again, and goals coming from all areas of the pitch. Sanchez no longer looks like the only player capable of making something happen, and while it is important for every team to have their talismans, it is imperative that they can also cope without them.
Arsenal are also seeing the return of a number of players, and although key stars like Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere still face some time on the sidelines, things aren’t looking as bleak as they have been at times this season.
However divided the opinion of Olivier Giroud is among Arsenal fans, he has unquestionably added something to the side since his recovery last month; his two goals against Newcastle showing that he boasts talents few others in the team can offer. The Frenchman’s compatriot Mathieu Debuchy is also a welcome re-addition to the side, with the club’s defensive crisis reaching breaking point before he made his timely return.
The Arsenal manager is naturally used to dealing with an injury hit squad by now, as it has become the norm at the Emirates over the last few years. He has seen the ups and downs of the club, and has learnt not to panic at the first sign of a problem.
With Arsenal finishing second in their Champions League group, they looked destined to draw one of the big teams in the last 16 once again. But after avoiding the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich, they were awarded an extremely favourable draw against Arsene Wenger’s former side AS Monaco.
Although no game in Europe’s elite competition is an easy one, the draw gives Arsenal a fantastic chance of progressing to the quarter-finals. And while it obviously has to be taken one game at a time, the closer you get to the final the more chance you have of causing an upset.
There are still a number of gaps in the team that need addressing, but with the January transfer window fast approaching, the Frenchman will have a chance to fix the problems he has neglected for so long.
The pendulum finally seems to be swinging in Arsenal’s favour as we head in to the new year, and Wenger will be looking to really get the Gunner’s firing from here on out.